As the industry continues to reflect and take action towards a more equitable future for Black creatives and employees in music, it is important that we highlight JOY–our theme for this year’s Black Music Month.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Naledi Nyahuma Seck, VP of Diversity Equity & Inclusion at The Orchard to hear what Black Music Month means to her and why it is important to recognize it, plus she shares her top memorable moments in Black music (including seeing Prince for $25!) and how we can continue to support and amplify Black artists and musicians. Thank you for sharing with us, Naledi!
What does Black Music Month mean to you?
The founders of BMM include Philadelphia visionaries Kenny Gamble and Dyana Williams, they paved the way for executives like me in the industry. Being from Philly, it gives me an added sense of pride knowing that our legends created BMM as a way to demonstrate and elevate the economic power of Black artists, musicians and executives.
What influence has Black music had on your life?
Black music has had a huge influence on my life. My parents played vinyl records in my house growing up and took me to my first concert, Gladys Knight & the Pips. I was influenced by concerts early on. It’s a shared experience that builds community and connection, and my love for concerts led me to working in the music industry.
Why is it necessary to recognize Black Music Month?
It’s important to promote and preserve our musical legacies, and intentionally support Black artists and musicians in a variety of ways including streams, retail sales, radio spins, and concert tickets. Many of us do these things all year long, but when it’s a concerted effort the results are limitless.
What moments in Black music history are most memorable for you?
- Whitney Houston singing the Star-Spangled Banner at the 1991 Super Bowl, the bar was set at a new height after that.
- Beyonce’s Homecoming performances at Coachella (HBCUs stand up!) From the performances to the final documentary, it was legendary!
- Prince performing 21 shows at the Forum in LA with $25 tickets and surprise guests every night in 2011. Unforgettable!
How do you support and uplift Black artists and music?
By consuming and amplifying our content, our voices and our stories. In my spare time, I also produce a podcast that highlights Black artists of the past and present called “Behind the Wheels.”
If you could create a supergroup with your favorite Black entertainers (living or dead), who would you choose? Why?
I love strong, soulful voices and my favorites list is endless. However, I would choose Jazmine Sullivan, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston for my supergroup. Respectfully, there is no lead.
What Black entertainer (past or present) would you want to spend the day with and why?
Whitney Houston, I think she’d be fun to hang out with and if she just so happens to hum a note throughout the day, I’d feel blessed [laughs].
Which Black artists are currently in your music rotation? What are some of your favorite albums within the last five years?
My current artists include: Jazmine Sullivan, H.E.R., J. Cole, Jay-Z.
A lot of things came out in the last five years. Some favorites include Lemonade by Beyonce, Chance the Rapper’s mixtape Coloring Book, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN to name a few.
Which is your favorite – 90’s R&B or 2000’s trap music? Why?
I’m going with 90’s R&B. As a child of the 90’s I remember all of the songs that were on the radio, writing down lyrics in my journal, buying my favorite CDs, etc. Although I was in Atlanta for the beginning of the trap music era and it holds a special place in my heart.
What’s your take on Black music’s influence on the music industry as a whole?
We set the trends and influence every genre. Period.